There are a few universal truths that you learn as a Crew fan. Things like “The Crew never lose in Canada”, “Robert Warzycha always puts 'the players on the field he thinks will win the game' ” and “Crew goals are as rare as a video on Tosh.0 that won’t make you squeamish.” Lately though, I’ve realized another axiom: “Crew fans are supposed to hate the Sounders.”
You’ve probably noticed this developing phenomenon over the years. Walk up to darn near any member of the Nordecke, and say something along the lines of “blah blah blah, Seattle Sounders, something positive.” What follows is likely a steady stream of expletives that will form the verb in the sentence “(Bleep) the Sounders.” Or more specifically, “(Bleep) those (bleep)ing (bleep)(bleep)ers.”
Point being, there are few better ways to incite anger in a Crew fan than by bringing up the team that stole Sigi Schmid from Columbus. Or the one that took Brad Evans. Or the one that beat the Black and Gold for a U.S. Open Cup in 2010. Or the one that “broke the floor.” Or the one that has outscored the Crew 14-5 in their MLS meetings. The Sounders have worked their way into that mythical group of teams that Crew fans love to hate. So, congrats Seattle - Toronto welcomes you to the party (after all, they’re the doormat), while Chicago keeps asking if they can have the party at their house.
Don’t make the mistake of calling the Sounders a rival, though. This series doesn’t qualify, unless the word “rivalry” is now a synonym for “curbstomping.” Sigi Schmid not only takes Robert Warzycha to the woodshed in these contests - he makes him fetch the switch beforehand.
Naturally, it’s painful for Crew fans to admit that Sigi has had our number, because we all kind of hoped he’d stop looking for it in the first place once he came here in 2006. But I’m not sure that sheer dominance on the field is the main reason for Crew fans’ anger towards the Xboxes. Nor am I convinced that many Crew fans have a downright hatred for any single Seattle player (though Fredy Montero would be on some people’s lists, now that they got rid of that underwear model).
What I hear more than anything is black-tar hatred for the Sounders organization’s success. It almost borders on jealousy.
Witness the vitriol that spews from Crew fans when someone dares mention the fact that Seattle averages over 38,000 fans per game. That would put them in the top 10 in attendance in England, a fact that almost always is mentioned alongside that attendance number, and surely, is just as likely to infuriate the Crew fan base. Seattle’s insane attendance numbers are further deranged by the fact that they play in a football stadium, and not an intimate soccer-specific stadium that has a roof, or a stage, or even actual grass.
Nevermind the fact that the Sounders only joined the league the year AFTER the Crew won MLS Cup, and yet their fans are already some of the most boisterous and passionate in the country. The newness will wear off, we say, hoping that eventually, Seattle will become moribund and depressed. You know, like Toronto fans...
But despite the popular opinion, I can’t hate Seattle.
After all, while we Crew fans can rightly claim more MLS history, there are some Sounders fans who have been rooting for this club for more than 30 years, well before the Seahawks and Mariners came to the Emerald City. It is because of that long history with the city that when the Seahawks built their stadium in 2002, they were only allowed to do so after assurances were made that the stadium would be easily converted to host soccer matches. CenturyLink Field isn’t soccer-specific; it’s soccer-approved.
If we’re completely honest, isn’t the Seattle Sounders experience what we all would love to have here? At the risk of running afoul of the Crew fans I mentioned earlier, I’ll choose to have my Venti Mocha Latte half full on this issue. The fact that soccer has taken such strong root in an American city gives me hope that one day, if Garber tarries, the Crew can have a similar experience here in Columbus.
No, that doesn’t mean I think the Crew should be playing at the Horseshoe, or that the grass in Crew Stadium should be replaced with FieldTurf, or that we need a marching band (no one, and I mean NO ONE, needs a marching band in soccer). But I am of the belief that soccer, when presented the right way, with a committed ownership that truly understands their fans, will work in this country.
Seattle is a glimpse into the future. The Crew front office should take note.
Just, ignore the band. And beat them for once. Please.